Opinion: A call to boycott former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters

As many of you know, Israel is under assault. However, the perpetrators are not only Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, but rather artists and musicians who are engaged in a Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Popular musicians—including Elvis Costello, The Pixies, Carlos Santana, The Gorillaz and Roger Waters—are refusing to perform in Israel, in order to punish the tiny Jewish state.

Roger Waters, former lead singer of the popular rock band Pink Floyd, wrote at length about his decision to boycott the state of Israel.

Here is part of what he said:

“In my view, the abhorrent and draconian control that Israel wields over the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), coupled with its denial of the rights of refugees to return to their homes in Israel, demands that fair minded people around the world support the Palestinians in their civil, nonviolent resistance…For me it means declaring my intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine, but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their governments racist and colonial policies, by joining a campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it satisfies three basic human rights demanded in international law.

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands [occupied since 1967] and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

So basically, Waters is calling for a boycott of Israel, until all the “Palestinian refugees” are allowed back in, effectively destroying it as the homeland of the Jewish people.

That Roger Waters, and so many other artists, would boycott the only true democracy in the Middle East—the only country that upholds the progressive values and human rights he supposedly lauds—shows how far anti-Semitism has pervaded our culture.

Many musicians boycott Israel because of peer-pressure, and because of pressure from anti-Israel hate groups. They succumb to this pressure because there does not seem to be any repercussions for boycotting Israel.

Well, I believe this is the perfect opportunity for Israel supporters to take a stand, and say “enough is enough!” If Roger Waters wishes to starve Israel economically then we should do the same back to him.

Roger Waters is scheduled to perform at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, May 19th of this year. This event will most certainly be attended by many Jews, as Roger Waters is extremely popular, and Los Angeles comprises one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. But maybe we can change that, and send a message to Roger Waters, and any other musician who is considering a boycott of Israel.

Please inform all your friends about Roger Waters’ boycott of Israel, and urge them to not attend his concert. Call up his management, write on his Facebook page, and do whatever else you can to let Roger know that boycotting Israel comes with consequences.

This is the perfect opportunity for Jewish liberals and conservatives, AIPAC and J-Street, to unite under a common cause, and make it clear that trying to economically destroy the only Jewish State will not go unnoticed.

We are not saying that people cannot criticize Israel. Of course they can. But there is a stark difference between criticism and a boycott. Let’s be clear—to single out the only Jewish state for hateful and economically harmful boycotts, is simply anti-Semitic.

IDF official: Nuclear Iran may curb Israeli border wars

A nuclear-armed Iran could deter Israel from going to war against Tehran’s guerrilla allies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli general said on Tuesday.

The Jewish state sees the makings of a mortal threat in Iran’s uranium enrichment and missile programs, and has lobbied world powers to roll them back through sanctions while hinting it could resort to pre-emptive military strikes.

Major-General Amir Eshel, head of strategic planning for the armed forces, echoed Israeli government leaders who argue that Iran, which denies wrongdoing but rejects international censure over its secretive projects, could create a “global nuclear jungle” and fuel arms races in an already volatile Middle East.

Eshel made clear that Israel – widely reputed to have the region’s only atomic arsenal – worries that Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia as well as Palestinian Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza could one day find reassurance in an Iranian bomb.

“They will be more aggressive. They will dare to do things that right now they would not dare to do,” he said in a briefing to foreign journalists and diplomats.

“So this is going to create a dramatic change in Israel’s strategic posture, because if we are forced to do things in Gaza or Lebanon under an Iranian nuclear umbrella , it might be different.”

Eshel, who spoke at the conservative Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs think-tank, quoted an unnamed Indian officer who, he said, had described the Asian power’s friction with nuclear-armed rival and neighbour Pakistan in terms of self-restraint.

“When the other side has a nuclear capability and are willing to use it, you think twice,” Eshel said. “You are more restrained because you don’t want to get into that ball game.”

Israel waged offensives in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in 2006 and 2008-2009, coming under short-range rocket attacks by Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are supported by Iran.

Eshel said there are now some 100,000 rockets and missiles that could be fired at Israel by the guerrillas, Iran and its ally Syria.

Despite seeing its resources strained by a 10-month-old popular uprising, Syria’s government has invested $2 billion in air defences over the last two years, and more on counter-measures against any ground invasion, Eshel said, linking both efforts to Syrian wariness of Israel.

He declined to be drawn on whether Israel might try to attack Iran’s distant, dispersed and well-defended nuclear facilities alone – or, conversely, whether it could decide to accept a nuclear-armed Iran as an inevitability to be contained through superior firepower and fortifications.

Those decisions, Eshel said, were up to the government and the armed forces would provide it with a “tool box” of options.

“We have the ability to hit very, very hard, any adversary,” said Eshel, a former senior air force officer and fighter pilot. But he cautioned against expecting any decisive “knock-out” blow against Israel’s enemies.

Writing by Dan Williams

Is Bibi bluffing on borders?

Leaks from unnamed aides to Benjamin Netanyahu claim he has shifted positions on another critical peace process issue –borders—but so far there’s no official confirmation.  It appears to be a tactical move to derail the Palestinian strategy for a UN statehood resolution next month, and it could work if the Israeli leader can convince Mahmoud Abbas that he is serious.

But there’s the rub.  He has a serious credibility problem, not just with Abbas but with Barack Obama, most foreign leaders and now hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

They don’t know what he has in mind.  Privately his aides have been in touch with Obama administration officials and representatives of the Mideast Quartet headed by Tony Blair, who also searching for a formula to convince Abbas to drop his UN gambit.

Netanyahu is demanding a quid pro quo, aides are telling Israeli media.  He will acknowledge the 1967 Green Line as the reference point for negotiations of future borders if the Palestinians will agree to ultimately recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

That is something Abbas has long opposed but must do if he is to convince Israelis that negotiations will lead to a final status agreement that will end the conflict and all Arab claims against Israel.

While Abbas appears determined to go ahead with his Sept 20 target for asking for UN recognition, he faces opposition from senior Palestinian figures, including his own prime minister, who feel he is risking critical relations with the Obama administration and the Congress in exchange for a feel good moment that will make no substantive changes on the ground.

There is less to Netanyahu’s “concession” than meets the eye.  The Green Line has been the reference point —not a final target—for negotiations since UN Security Council Resolution 242 was passed following the 1967 war, and it has been U.S. policy ever since.  It was also acknowledged by previous Israeli prime ministers, including Ehud Barak, Netanyahu’s present defense minister, more than a decade ago.

When President Obama reiterated that policy in May during an Oval Office meeting, Netanyahu deliberately distorted what the president had said and rudely lectured him about defensible borders.  Obama never called for a return to the 67 lines, as Netanyahu implied, only that they be a reference point and that there be mutual land swaps.  That is the same as the approach of George W. Bush, according to Bush’s national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, and Netanyahu knew it.

But Netanyahu’s performance – not unintentionally—ignited a firestorm of attacks on Obama as trying to force Israel to “retreat” behind “Auschwitz borders.”  That may have temporarily boosted Netanyahu’s poll numbers at home and encouraged anti-Obama attacks here, but it was another body blow to the prime minister’s stature and credibility internationally.

Palestinians latched on to the incident as an opportunity to side with the Americans against Netanyahu by demanding that he accept the Obama formula, which is what the PM’s aides now tell reporters aides he is finally ready to do.  But will the Palestinians take yes for an answer?

Abbas’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, reportedly told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that if Netanyahu accepts the Obama formula Abbas would be ready to resume negotiations.

But don’t be surprised if he reneges on that and renews his longstanding demand that Israel freeze all construction beyond the 67 lines, including in East Jerusalem, where the Netanyahu government just gave the go-ahead to build hundreds of new homes.

Some on the Jewish far right who routinely accuse Israel’s Jewish critics of meddling where they don’t belong suddenly made an about-face and began lecturing Netanyahu about his “strategic error” and “dangerous concession.”  Accepting the 1967 border reference point, said one perennially angry voice, is “the last thing Israel should be doing.”

Netanyahu has shown a proclivity for exhausting all the alternatives before making difficult ideological decisions.  He had opposed the Oslo Accords, the land-for-peace principle, the two-state solution, a settlement freeze and the border formula.  By the time he came around, grudgingly, he had squandered any goodwill he might have gained.  People remembered his “no, no, no,” and that overshadowed his “yes.”

Abbas should quickly take up Netanyahu’s offer to go to Ramallah for negotiations, but I see no evidence that the Palestinian leader is serious about resuming talks.  If he were, he could have done it long ago instead of embarking on his inflammatory UN strategy, complete with planned demonstrations, that is raising false hopes and could too easily erupt in violence.

Both leaders should remember President Kennedy’s successful strategy in the 1962 Cuban missile crises.  JFK ignored the things Nikita Khrushchev said that he didn’t like and embraced those he did.  Netanyahu has given Abbas an opportunity to declare victory – accept the offer to make the Green Line a reference point, cancel his UN application and invite Netanyahu to Ramallah.  Opportunity is knocking.  Does he have the courage to open the door?

Then we’ll find out who is serious and who is bluffing.

Israel closing West Bank for Yom Kippur

Israel will close the West Bank for the Yom Kippur holiday, its army said.

The crossings will close from midnight Thursday until midnight Saturday “in accordance with security assessments adopted by the defense establishment,” according to an Israel Defense Forces statement.

Those needing medical attention will be allowed to cross into Israel, according to the statement. Humanitarian aid, as well as doctors, medical personnel, NGO members, attorneys and other professionals, will be coordinated by the Civil Administration.

Gaza’s Ties to Jewish History

Modern Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip resumed only after the 1967 Six-Day War, but even with those settlements set to be evacuated, Jewish roots in the sandy strip of land where Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea meet run deep.

Opinions differ on whether the area was or was not included in the Land of Israel conquered by the ancient Israelites in the Bible.

Samson is the only biblical Israelite noted for having set foot there. In the 17th century, false messiah Shabbatai Zevi gave the area a bad name when he launched his movement from its shores.

After a contentious debate, Israel’s Knesset voted last year to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and evacuate the 9,000 or so Jewish settlers who live in suburban-style communities there, where sprawling green lawns and playgrounds are protected by wire fences and military towers.

The settler population is dwarfed by the 1.3 million Palestinians who live in densely populated Gaza, which is 25 miles long and just 6 miles wide.

During biblical times, Gaza was part of the land promised to the Jews by God but never part of the land actually conquered and inhabited by them, said Nili Wazana, a lecturer on Bible studies and the history of the Jewish people at Hebrew University.

Wazana, who is currently writing a book on the borders of the biblical Land of Israel, said there are contradictory references to Gaza in the Torah. One passage in Judges — often cited by Jewish settlers and their supporters — says the tribe of Judah took control of the area. But other biblical stories contradict this — a pattern typical of the Bible, she said.

“On almost everything, you will find an opinion and an opposite opinion. It was not a homogenous text. It was not written at same time, and there are competing ideologies,” Wazana said.

Most Israelis saw neither historic nor strategic reasons for staying in Gaza. But to Yigal Kamietsky, the rabbi of Gush Katif, the main Jewish settler bloc there, Gaza is an integral part of biblical Israel.

“Gaza is part of the Land of Israel, no less than Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak,” he said. “There is no doubt it is part of the borders.” He said that not only was it considered a mitzvah to settle there, but that “if we were not here, I am not sure the State of Israel would still be there.”

Kamietsky said Jews in the Gaza settlements act as a buffer for those Jews living within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

He added that historically Gaza was often caught in the crossfire of war.

“Always in history, Gaza seemed more problematic,” he said, pointing to the fabled enemies of the Israelites, the seafaring Philistines, who controlled the area in biblical times.

The one period when Jews appeared to have sovereignty over Gaza was during the time of Hasmonean rule, when the Jewish King Yochanan — whose brother was Judah Maccabee — captured the area in 145 C.E.

Haggai Huberman — who has written extensively on the history of Jewish settlement in Gaza over the centuries and is writing a history of the Jews in Gush Katif — says that Jews have lived on and off in Gaza since the time of Roman rule, their settlement following a pattern of expulsion during times of war and conquest and return during more peaceful periods. The remains of an ancient synagogue found in Gaza date to around 508 C.E. Its mosaic floor, unearthed by archeologists, is now displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

There reportedly was a large Jewish community living in the area when Muslims invaded in the seventh century. The Jews were noted for their skills as farmers and for making wine in their vast vineyards.

After the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, some Spanish and Portuguese Jews fled to Gaza. They abandoned the area when Napoleon’s army marched through but later returned.

When the first wave of Zionist settlers arrived in the region at the end of the 19th century, a group of 50 families moved to Gaza City. According to Huberman, they established good relations with local Arabs.

The settlers stayed until they were expelled in 1914 — along with Gaza’s entire Arab population — by the Ottoman Turks during World War I. The Jews returned in 1920. But tensions simmered with Arab and Jewish nationalism on the rise, and the relations with local Arabs began to sour, Huberman said.

The major Jewish presence in Gaza on the eve of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 was a kibbutz called Kfar Darom, set up in 1946. It was evacuated during the war and was among the first places to be resettled by Jews after 1967. Initially inhabited by Israeli soldiers from the Nahal brigade, it soon evolved into one of several civilian settlements established in the 1970s as the settler movement gained strength. Present-day debates over territory mirror those in the Torah, said Wazana of Hebrew University.

“Descriptions of borders reflect different ideologies even back then,” she said. “People have put words in the mouth of God even in biblical times. If you have an ideology, you will find the right words to support it.”


Geneva Initiative Is Merely a Dream

The Geneva initiative is a dream. It’s unrealistic; it’s hoopla. I suppose people need diversions in their lives.

That it was a private Israeli citizen and members of the opposition party who drafted the initiative is fine in my book. That’s not a crime in Israel. There is no Logan Act forbidding ex-officio personalities from engaging in foreign negotiations. Israel actually has a history of similar actions.

The plan lays out borders that nearly approximate a return of Israel to pre-1967 borders. But it was the prerogative of those who composed the plan to put in it whatever they saw fit. So that, too, is OK with me.

What bothers me is that those who drafted the initiative and those who applaud the initiative don’t realize that it is only a dream. They think of it as a reality.

What bothers me is that they think that because they’ve put pen to paper, it will be possible for miracles to happen, for Israelis to live in peace and harmony with the Palestinians. That history has taught them nothing.

What bothers me is not what’s in the Geneva initiative, but what’s missing. That it never deals with the reality of "what happens when …?"

In international negotiations, when a country, like a person, is fooled once, we can chalk it up to naiveté. But when the citizens of that country commit the same exact mistake again, that’s sloppy thinking, it’s myopic vision, it’s irresponsible, it’s wishful thinking bordering on the delusional.

The first time, we can reason that the public may have been so consumed by the frenzy generated by an idea so powerful that it literally overwhelmed them, silencing all alternative voices in the public debate. Second time around, it frightens me and sets off warning bells. And that’s what I see happening now.

Geneva is the second time Israelis are making a colossal mistake in reasoning and calculations. The first was the Oslo accord.

The Oslo mistake was understandable — then and even now — in retrospect. Given the stresses involved in daily living in Israel at the time, the feelings of despair, the effort of absorbing suicide bombing attack after attack in major cities, it’s only reasonable that Israelis would embrace Yasser Arafat and his promise of peace.

The public, like Israel’s leaders at the time, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, ran headlong into the arms of their longtime enemy, dizzy with the prospect of a true peace. After all, everyone reasoned, things can never get any worse; now we’re going to make it all better.

Well, they were wrong, and history proved it.

And yet despite that history, there is very serious excitement in many corridors of power around the world. The Geneva initiative is being considered by serious personalities as a viable plan capable of advancing a just peace.

Has nobody read the document? No doubt, reality and politics are blurred here. Presidents and prime ministers, past and present, have sent letters of support for this initiative. Former President Jimmy Carter is a featured supporter of the program.

More telling, Richard Dreyfuss, a fine actor but nevertheless an actor, was the master of ceremonies at the official Geneva accord ceremony. Master of ceremonies? For a peace initiative?

The Israeli mastermind and senior representative is Yossi Beilin. He was one of the architects of the failed Oslo accord. Geneva is his second Oslo.

This time he thinks he can get it right. And he hopes that it will catapult him right back into the center of Israeli politics, a position from which he was rather unceremoniously removed for being even too far left for left-thinking Israelis.

Now he and his colleagues are out to magically resolve one of Israel’s great unsolvables. They think that it can be done with no consideration of failure or of potential unfulfillment of the agreement. The document contains not one clause dealing with what happens when.

What happens when the Palestinian side does not live up to its end of the agreement?

What happens when illegal weapons are not collected in the newly demilitarized Palestinian state?

What happens when new weapons are smuggled into or manufactured by the Palestinians and used to shoot at Israel?

What happens then?

Because the Geneva accord clearly states that Israel may not even enter Palestinian air space in order to pursue terrorists.

Because the plan explicitly describes how international forces will protect the Palestinians from Israeli incursions.

Because the plan states that the role of those forces is to supervise, in order to make certain that Palestinians are not hurt by Israelis.

What happens when the Palestinians break their promises?

What happens then?

What happens to Israelis?

That’s when their dream turns into a nightmare.

Micah D. Halpern is the founding director of the Jerusalem Center for European Study.

Hey Kids

In these portions, the borders of Israel are drawn in two different ways. Unfortunately, they conflict. Mattot indicates Israel’s borders extend from the Nile River to the Euphrates River. But Maseh is much more moderate and reports Israel’s borders are between Dan and Beersheva.

Israel is, to this very day, in a dispute over her borders. Maybe the Torah is trying to tell us something about borders. Maybe the Torah is saying: borders can be changed — and it is up to us to decide how to use them. Will we use them to shut other people out and call them our enemies, or will we expand them to include as many people as we can? Think about this next time you need to decide who you want to include as part of your group. You might see that when you open the border gates to someone you thought was your enemy, you will find that he or she has become your best friend.